|Publication number||US5550346 A|
|Application number||US 08/262,976|
|Publication date||Aug 27, 1996|
|Filing date||Jun 21, 1994|
|Priority date||Jun 21, 1994|
|Publication number||08262976, 262976, US 5550346 A, US 5550346A, US-A-5550346, US5550346 A, US5550346A|
|Inventors||Myke D. Andriash, John Keightley|
|Original Assignee||Andriash; Myke D., Keightley; John|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (6), Referenced by (86), Classifications (20), Legal Events (8)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates to a laser apparatus for making a regular array of perforations or holes in a sheet material.
It has recently become known that perforated sheet with an image and/or reflective surface on one side is a highly attractive advertising medium. Such material is transparent from one side while its image can be seen from the other side provided the level of illumination is greater on the image side of the sheet. Previously, painted dots over a transparent sheet material were used to create the equivalent effect as disclosed in U.K. Patent Application No. 2,118,096 A by Hill et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 4,673,609 issued to Hill. Obviously, the placement of such dots of about 1.0 mm in diameter with a spacing of 1.4 mm between centers requires precise registration and involves special masks. Hill '609 does mention punching, burning, and laser cutting to obtain the perforations but discloses no techniques by which laser cutting can be achieved.
The conventional methods of making perforations in plastic sheet material is to first make a die of a desired pattern and then to punch the material with this die over the surface of the material. In order to cover a large sheet material with holes it is necessary either to make a very large and expensive die or to punch the material several times. Multiple punching requires careful alignment of the sheet material before each punching step. Any slight misalignment becomes highly visible in the final product.
A second disadvantage is that not all material is amenable to being punched. For example, there are highly reflective materials which have tiny glass beads on their surface that would prevent mechanical perforation or dull the dies used to make these perforations. A second problem faced by mechanical dies is their tendency to become clogged with glue when perforating vinyl. Unfortunately, most commonly available vinyls have glue on one side. One possibility of overcoming the problem which are present for mechanical dies is to utilize a laser to perforate sheet material. It is known to cut holes in metal plate using lasers. However, obviously powerful lasers are required to accomplish such a task. For purposes of cutting through sheet material lower power lasers would be adequate but the cost of a laser powerful enough to burn through a variety of different sheet material of different thicknesses with a hole of a varying diameter as required for different purposes would still be relatively expensive.
According to the invention there is provided an apparatus for cutting perforations in sheet material with a laser which includes a laser, means for focusing and directing a laser beam from the laser onto the sheet material so as to cut a perforation therein, and means for moving said laser beam from one perforating position to another. Means are also provided for shutting off the laser beam when moving from the one perforation position to the other. A perforation pattern is thus produced over a selected portion of the sheet.
The laser beam moving means may include a movable arm movable along a first direction and reflecting and collimating means for directing the laser beam along the first direction proximate the arm so as to be reflected onto the sheet.
The laser beam moving means may also include a pair of mirrors rotatable about orthogonal axes mounted to the arm and reflecting and collimating means for directing the laser beam along the first direction so as to be reflected off of the first mirror onto the second mirror and then onto the sheet.
Servo motors may be coupled to the first and second mirrors to rotate them so as to direct the beam over the sheet material so as to traverse a desired path.
Preferably there are included means for moving the sheet material in discrete steps perpendicular to the first direction of movement.
Means are provided for adjusting the spacing between the holes and the rows.
The rotating means may be a pair of galvanometer servo motors to which the first and second mirrors, respectively, are mounted.
The reflecting and collimating means are a series of spaced apart mirrors and lenses between the laser and the mirrors which direct the laser beam parallel to the arm before it impinges on the first mirror.
The moving means may be a servo motor driving the arm and a processor coupled to the servo motor.
In another aspect of the invention there is provided a method of forming an array of perforations in sheet material which includes perforating with a laser holes along a row and step-wise moving the sheet material along a second direction orthogonal to the row once the perforations along the row are complete.
Preferably, after completion of each row the next row is started by reversing the direction of movement of the arm.
Advantageously, each hole is formed by moving the beam in a circle. Rather than perforating one hole at a time in a single row, two or more rows may be perforated with the sheet material in a fixed position on the bed by perforating a hole in one row and then moving the beam to the next row and perforating a hole in that row and then moving the beam back to the one hole and repeating the perforation pattern until both rows are completed after which the sheet material may be moved in a step-wise manner and the perforation process continued until the sheet is fully perforated. Multiple head and optical systems may be added in a like manner to speed the rate of perforation of a sheet material.
The novel features believed characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, as well as other features and advantages thereof, will be best understood by reference to the description which follows read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the laser perforating apparatus;
FIG. 2 is a schematic view of the electronic control circuit for the galvanometers, laser, sliding arm and sheet moving servos;
FIG. 3 is a plan view showing the movement of the laser beam along a single row;
FIG. 4 is a plan view showing the movement of the laser beam along two rows at a time;
FIG. 5 is a plan view showing the movement of the laser beam along three rows at a time.
Referring to FIG. 1 the laser perforating apparatus shown has a horizontally disposed bed 48 equipped with a roller assembly 10 made up of rollers 40, 42, 44 and 46 for engaging a sheet material 38 and moving it step-wise across the bed 48. Positioned above bed 48 is an elongated arm 12 carrying a galvanometer mounting plate 14 to which galvanometer servo motors 16 and 20 are fastened. Galvanometer servo motors 16 and 20 consist of a rotatable coil of wire (not shown) suspended in a magnetic field with a rotary encoder affixed to the coil. Alternatively, the galvanometer servo motor may also be of a type having a magnet suspended in a coil of wire with the encoder attached to the magnet. Arm 12 is driven by an arm servo 11. A planar mirror 18 is attached to galvanometer servo motor 16 and is driven rotationally thereby. Similarly, a planar mirror 22 is attached to galvanometer servo motor 20 and drives the former rotationally. The axis of rotation of mirror 22 is vertical while that of mirror 18 is horizontal and along the direction of movement of arm 12.
A carbon dioxide laser 24 shown positioned below bed 48 emits a beam which is reflected by mirrors 26 and 28 onto lenses 29 and 30 which expand the diameter of the beam to the desired size and also collimate the beam. The beam is further reflected by mirrors 32 and 34 parallel to arm 12, through focusing mirror 36 and onto mirror 22. From mirror 22 the beam is reflected onto mirror 18 and down onto sheet 38. It will be appreciated that mirror 22 controls movement of the beam in the direction of movement of arm 12 while mirror 18 moves the beam along the direction of movement of sheet 38. Lens 36 can be positioned as shown or, alternatively, in a horizontal attitude below mirror 18 to maximize the distance between the media and the final optical element. By moving the optical elements up and away from the cutting point one avoids contamination of these by cutting debris.
Referring to FIG. 2 the electronic control circuit for the galvanometer servo motors 16 and 20, the sheet servos 41, the arm 12 and the laser 24 is shown as consisting of drivers 50 and 52 which drive the galvanometer servo motors 16 and 20. A processor 54 which receives input instructions from keypad 56 provides the driving signal to drivers 50 and 52 an ON/OFF signal to control the output of laser 24, the rotation of a lead screw (not shown) which drives the arm 12 and the movement of sheet servos 41. Depending upon the driving signals various hole patterns can be achieved. The spacing between holes may be adjusted by varying software parameters of processor 54 to vary the speed of movement of arm 12 and the movement of the galvanometer servo motors 16 and 20. Some of these hole patterns are seen in FIGS. 3, 4, and 5.
As seen in FIG. 3 each hole is cut out in a circular fashion so that the volume of material that has to be burned away by the laser is minimized thereby reducing the smoke and charring of the material. The arm 12 is moved continuously as the beam traces around first one hole and then the next. The movement of the galvanometer servo motors compensates for the motion of the arm 12 to produce the desired circles or other patterns. After each hole is traced, the laser beam is shut off while the galvanometers move to position the beam when ON at the position of the next hole to be traced and then it is switched ON again and the next hole is cut. The process is repeated until an entire row of holes is formed across the width of the sheet material 38. Then the roller assembly 10 moves the sheet material 38 a precise distance across the bed to the position where the next row of holes is to be formed and the perforation process is repeated one line at time.
As seen in FIG. 4, two rows of holes are formed at one position of the sheet material 38, thereby minimizing the number of incremental moves of sheet 38 over bed 48. A hole from one row is cut and after completion the beam is shut off while arm 12 is moving continuously. The mirrors 18 and 22 move the beam to an adjacent row at which point the beam is switched back on and caused to describe a circle so as to cut out the next hole. The mirrors 18 and 22 cause the beam to return to its original position while roller assembly 10 moves the sheet incrementally to a next position wherein the entire perforation procedure is repeated.
As seen in FIG. 5 three holes at a time can be perforated as shown. Unlike the pattern in FIG. 4, rather than returning to the original position after completing three holes, the mirrors reverse the beam and cause it to perforate a hole in the middle row and then one in the first row as shown.
Accordingly, while this invention has been described with reference to illustrative embodiments, this description is not intended to be construed in a limiting sense. Various modifications of the illustrative embodiments, as well as other embodiments of the invention, will be apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reference to this description. It is therefore contemplated that the appended claims will cover any such modification or embodiments as fall within the true scope of the invention.
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|U.S. Classification||219/121.72, 83/16, 219/121.7, 219/121.8, 219/121.71, 219/121.74|
|International Classification||B23K26/08, B23K26/38, B44F1/10|
|Cooperative Classification||B23K2203/50, B23K2203/42, B23K26/382, B23K26/082, Y10T83/0414, B44F1/10, B23K26/08|
|European Classification||B44F1/10, B23K26/38B, B23K26/08B, B23K26/08|
|Jun 21, 1994||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: TRANSCAB COMMUNICATIONS INC., BRITISH COLUMBIA
Free format text: CONFIDENTIALITY, PROPRIETARY RIGHTS, AND NONCOMPETITION AGREEMENTS;ASSIGNORS:KEIGHTLEY, JOHN;KINETIC CONTROL SYSTEMS INC.;REEL/FRAME:007375/0153;SIGNING DATES FROM 19930717 TO 19940301
|Mar 21, 2000||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Aug 24, 2000||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Aug 24, 2000||SULP||Surcharge for late payment|
|Feb 18, 2004||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Mar 3, 2008||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Aug 27, 2008||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Oct 14, 2008||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20080827